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Current Newsletter & Releases:

CMTPA TO MEET JAN. 14  Convention Hall
Deputy City Manager to discuss budget issues 

NOVEMBER 2021 E-NEWSLETTER

Demographics: 

Like it or not Cape May is changing. It's becoming harder to ignore the reality that Cape May is shape-shifting from a quaint Victorian village into a commercial enterprise. Consider these facts:

  • In recently released US Census data, in New Jersey municipalities with over 1,000 people the largest population decrease in the state was Cape May City.
     
  • Cape May's population fell from 3,607 in 2010 to 2,768 in 2020 for a decrease of 23.3%.
     
  • The paradigm has shifted from residency to investment.
     
  • While population declines affordable housing is becoming less available.
     
  • Over three quarters of the housing stock is either family vacation homes or rental investment properties.
     
  • In just the third quarter of 2021, 34 single family homes sold for an average sold price of $1,195,539.  That is a 20% price increase over 2020 and a 53% price increase over 2018.
      
  • Condo average sold prices have also increased close to 60% since 2018.
     
  • How commercial is Cape May? The gross receipts for Cape May's businesses annually approach $300,000,000, not counting residential property rentals.
     
  • The municipal budget for 2021 is 23% larger than it was in 2016. 

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TRANSPARENCY – WHAT GOOD IS IT? 

At its Reorganization Meeting last January, the Cape May City Council promised to bring transparency to the workings of our city government. Taxpayers and residents deserve and should expect a clear view of how policy is made and how our money is spent. In a town like Cape May where so few taxpayers actually reside, a variety of options for access to the workings of governments is essential for transparency.

Policy and spending are generated from a variety of municipal bodies. Council sets policy, raises revenue, and spends money. Statutory boards and commissions such as Planning, Zoning, HPC, Environment and Shade Tree control what we can do with our property. Advisory Committees such as MTRAC, Beach Safety, and Bike and Pedestrian Safety study issues and recommend policy to City Council.

All of these bodies meet regularly, and their schedules are posted on the City Website.  These postings include agendas, attachments and documents to be discussed at those meetings.

CAPE MAY CITY MEETINGS & AGENDAS

In addition, these meetings are Live Streamed, an essential service for interested taxpayers who cannot attend in person. These meetings can be viewed live or anytime at your leisure because the website retains the video recording.

CAPE MAY CITY LIVE STREAM

The City Website also lists the emails of the Council members and the city officials for any taxpayer or resident who wishes to communicate directly to our policy makers.

So far, they've been true to their word. They're delivering on Transparency...... but is anybody looking?

A look at the numbers recorded on the City Website for Live Stream participation seems to indicate that the answer to that question is: Not Many.

There have been a few technical problems with the current outdates Live Stream system and a few meetings have not been recorded properly. The City is switching to a new and hopefully more reliable system by December 20.

Since January there have been 92 recorded public meetings of nine bodies responsible for raising revenue, spending public dollars, and crafting public policy. You can watch any or all of them whenever you want.

The numbers seem to indicate a distinct lack of interest. Fifteen of these meetings had single digit viewership.

The most important body among these is the City Council. Their 27 recorded meetings were viewed by an average of 315 people, with audiences ranging from 1109 to 1 member of the public watching.

Information

Access to information and opportunities for input are available, either directly from the City or through organizations like the TPA. And yet, given that there are over 3,800 Cape May City property taxpayers across the country, and a similar number of people residing in the City, the obvious question arises: How many of us know, or care to know, how our money is spent or how the policies affecting all of us are developed? How many of us really want to see that process?

Hot issues like Council Resignations and Jetty Motels get some spikes in interest, but for most issues it's crickets. When that happens, all that remains is to complain about some policy we could have had a say in adopting. 

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OCCUPANCY TAX - UPDATE: 

State law requires a 5% state tax on the gross receipts of tourist accommodations like hotels and motels, as well as Transient Internet Rentals. The law also permits a municipality to collect an additional 1 to 3 percent for local purposes.

Since 2004 Cape May has opted to collect just 2% of this important source of annual revenue, and, since 2018, has not applied any local percentage on transient rentals.

Occupancy 

That has all changed.  At the urgings of TPA and the Municipal Taxation and Revenue Advisory Committee (MTRAC) which proposed the ordinance, City Council has increased the local tax by 1% to a full 3% and has applied that 3% to all short-term rentals through internet sites such as AirBnB. This change will take effect on 1/1/2022 and has no effect on revenue for 2021.

This tax is a significant source of revenue to support a wide variety of tourism and recreation related services as well as the operation of Convention Hall. How significant:

  • As of November 2021 with two months to go, the city Budget Office has collected $1,757,077 on the 2% local tax on hotel and motel accommodations only. This amount is 55% over the projected 2021 revenue of $1,177,000. This is due to the excellent season enjoyed by our Tourism Industry
     
  • For 2022, the tax will be 3% and, when combined with the new 3% applied to the internet short term rentals, there is a reasonable expectation of well over $1,000,000 in new revenues for many operational and capital services to our residents and visitors.

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TRANSPARENT BUDGETING: 

Currently a significant amount of general revenue is used for operational support of the three user funded utilities within the city. These utilities, Water/Sewer, Tourism, and the Beach, each have their own funding sources which are intended to support services to the users of each utility and avoid an overburden on property taxpayers. 

The Municipal Taxation and Revenue Advisory Committee (MTRAC) recently recommended to City Council that the coming budget identify the service cost in each of these utilities currently funded by the General Fund and move these Taxpayer funded costs to the User Fees of each utility.

To date, Council has taken no action on this recommendation. The MTRAC Recommendation and PowerPoint presentation are posted on the TPA Website.

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BEACH SAFETY: 

The beach is the single most important resource in making Cape May such a desirable place to live, vacation and visit. The beach we have is a product of decades of regular sand replenishment. Recent discussion has surrounded the safety of both this resource and methods used to maintain it. There will be significant fiscal implications resulting from the resolution of these discussions.

The City maintains a Beach Safety Advisory Committee and is planning to soon make changes in both the mission and the membership of that committee.

A recent article in the Cape May Sentinel presents an interesting overview of these issues. 

THE CAPE MAY SENTINEL: SAFE TO GO IN THE WATER

TPA recommends that taxpayers give this article a careful reading and keep a close eye on the agenda and the recommendations the Beach Safety Advisory Committee.

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UPDATES: 

Fire House:
 
Construction is underway for the new Firehouse. Mayor and Council project a cost slightly over $5,000,000 with completion scheduled for Spring of 2023.

Demolition
 
Fire equipment will be temporarily housed at the West Cape May Fire Station. Residents along Broadway and Leaming Ave in West Cape May, as well as Broadway and Elmira streets in Cape May, should anticipate seeing an increase in emergency vehicle traffic due to the adjusted response routes required to respond from West Cape May.

Firetrucks
 
An ambulance will be stationed at the Cape May Convention Hall for 12 hours a day to avoid any response time delays for emergency medical services (EMS). The U.S. Coast Guard Fire Department will respond to all fire services incidents along with Cape May FD apparatus and personnel North and East of Madison Avenue.

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Firefighter Union Contract Negotiations: No progress announced to date. (See TPA Analysis Parts 1 and 2 is September E-newsletters. Also posted of TPA Website)

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Police Union Contract.  Settled November 10, 2021. Details in our next E-newsletter.

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City Council has confirmed that all temporary regulations regarding outdoor drinking and dining will terminate on December 31, 2021.

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As of December 7, City Council has once again postponed consideration of a comprehensive ordinance concerning the short-term rental of residential properties.

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Communication is the key to reaching our goal.

We need to hear your thoughts, comments, suggestions, complaints and concerns as we seek to evaluate the decisions affecting the interests of Cape May's Taxpayers.

Please reach out to us at:

2020CMTPA@gmail.com

Hope to hear from you soon!

Taxpayers Association of Cape May
PO Box 46
Cape May, NJ 08204

 
News Releases:
(Most links will open in a new window - close when finished)

NEW: CMTPA TO MEET JAN. 14  Convention Hall Deputy City Manager to discuss budget issues 

Municipal Taxation And Revenue Advisory Committee  Recommendations

Feb. 3, 2021: Cape May Taxpayers Return to City Hall, Website and Email Participation Encouraged

Municipal Revenue and Taxation Advisory Committee Recommendation 2021 – 1

Open carry and consumption of alcohol beverages in public spaces.

Election 2020 - Issues of Concern to Cape May Taxpayers & Candidate Response

Cape May Taxpayers Assn.: Change Budget Process

Cape May taxpayer group launches campaign to educate property owners

Cape May Taxpayers Launch Outreach Program - Revamped Website and
E-newsletter Key to Effort


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